Tis the week after Thanksgiving and the retail frenzy is in full flurry. We are all thinking of time, energy and activities that are taxed during the next 35 days. My focus is simply to be grateful for the sense of place that is the characteristic of the Sheridan community.

The sense of place was coined, in my experience, by Dan Kemmis, mayor of Missoula in the early ‘90s. The term lacks specificity but is used often in community dialogue. A quick review of its meaning suggests a strong connection between residents and their close relationship to a unique environmental landscape. The interconnectivity is cherished and provides the first blink to visitors. It is a positive blink from the perspective of balanced economic and community values.

In many of my Forward Sheridan-related activities I hear that Sheridan is lucky. My counter is rather quick; we are ahead of the game in setting, strong with community leadership and blessed with an environment that still sets a framework for some of the fundamental values to exist and flourish. This continuation of community values is what sets Sheridan apart.

For our work objectives, a key is that we still have a population that maintains the mantra that a handshake and word are strong. No it is not universal, but it is ubiquitous within our community and businesses. We, at Forward Sheridan, see this reinforced consistently and demonstrated over time. As a recent example Forward Sheridan represented our community at the Governor’s Business Alliance meeting in Cheyenne. For us to attend we quickly garnered financial sponsors to assist with financial requirements which enabled the participation by “tech centered” businesses. This presence is noticed by other communities and businesses and runs parallel to the community efforts to invest in infrastructure which is also noticed. And this is a good, cost-effective platform to promote the expansion of our existing businesses to the broad spectrum of business leaders attending this meeting from around the state. Sheridan businesses continue to grow, providing goods and services to our neighboring communities; they don’t need to go to the front range of Colorado to get competent services.

Second is the concept of “ride for the brand.” Sheridan is a solid blend of environment/geography, mixed with a dedicated community that balances good economy and our amenities. Solid economy is the engine for “quality of life” services and amenities — be it the animal shelter, art or health care. An economic system with diversity and vigor enables social amenities. All are tied to the collective “place.” As one state of Wyoming official commented, “Sheridan is the role model for linking state infrastructure to real economic growth — good jobs and good resilience.”

For the holiday season, lets take stock of the unique and valued settings where we reside and more importantly say thanks to our neighbors and community leaders as they are the foundation. At Forward Sheridan we recognize that this is fragile and needs to be nurtured each day.


Jay Stender is the executive director of Forward Sheridan.